First hike in the series of our “Training for Hinchinbrook” series! Get those buns moving!
We started our training with a march up a mountain not far from our home. The Townsville Town Common Conservation Park is located within the Cape Pallarenda Regional Park, just 10km east of Townsville. It is comprised of salt flats, beaches, woodlands, a small mountain range and seasonal wetlands.
Seasonal….seasonal…. not lately. Queensland is in the middle of a severe drought so the Common has not seen much water in awhile. When we started hiking the area years ago, the wetlands would always have at least some water in them for the water birds. Not anymore. To give you an idea, the first picture was taken in 2014 on the Freshwater trail. The 2nd was taken this year looking down on the same spot. The brown in the 2nd photos is the “wetlands”:
Despite the dry conditions, hiking along the Many Peaks Range to Mount Marlow was the perfect spot to start our training. Mount Marlow is a small peak located in the Many Peaks Range. To call it a “peak” is probably a bit gratuitous, especially coming from a Colorado girl. Although it is the highest mountain in the range (I’m not even sure I’m comfortable calling it a “range”!) it still only clocks in at 213m (~700ft). The hike itself is comprised of 3 smaller hikes – the Many Peaks trail, the Freshwater trail and the Lagoon trail – to make a complete 11km hike. Given this was our first training hike, we were a bit slow so it took us around 6 hours.
We parked at the Freshwater car park, the headed left on the Freshwater trail, up the Many Peaks track to meet on the other side with Lagoon trail. From here you can head to the beach if you choose, but we turned right and intersected with the Freshwater trail back to our car.
A blip in our training was our timing. We set out to do this hike at 10am. So we saw zero wildlife. However, if you go in the morning or start coming back as the sun is setting, the Common is a great place to spot all kinds of cranes, geese and other wetland birds.
So maybe we didn’t see birds this time, but the dry air has brought out the butterflies! At one point, Benny Mac and I were surrounded by hundreds of some of the most colorful butterflies I have ever seen. It was magical, to say the least.
On the bug note though – full disclosure, and word for those thinking of giving this hike a go – this was my 3rd attempt at finishing this hike in the past seven years. Locust and spiders live along side the pretty creatures and they can quickly put a damper on any hike. The locusts jump out of the tall grass when disturbed and cling to you quite fiercely. My first attempt at this hike, my hiking buddy at the time had worn shorts and was clearly losing her mind, so we turned back.
Take 2 took Benny Mac and I half way up the Many Peaks track to the area where the woodlands started. Golden Orbweavers, as far as the eye could see. If you haven’t seen these spiders, they are about the size of your hand and build webs across empty spaces (like trails! for you to unknowingly walk through until it is too late!). And to see literally hundreds of them blocking the path – a little too adventurous for Benny Mac and I.
My biggest tips for the Many Peaks hike are to wear pants even if it is hot, and pick your timing wisely to capitalize on wildlife spotting. It’s a great hike and you’ll be rewarded with some stunning views of the Common and Castle Hill.
Next time, I’m going to talk about another local trek – Alligator Creek!
*Nprsr.qld.gov.au, (2015). Townsville Town Common Regional Park – About Townsville Town Common (Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing). [online] Available at: http://www.nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks/townsville/about.html [Accessed 7 Jul. 2015].